I have a jillion pictures of me or some of my travel friends posing in front of some iconic piece of art in a city. I have pictures with the Chicago Cows, which led to animals all over the USA including Bartlesville Buffalos and Tulsa Penguins. I can flip through snapshots and know exactly where we were by the statue, such as Molly Malone with her cockles and mussels in Dublin, and the bull on NYC Wall Street. In today’s age of a camera in every phone and a phone in every hand, the insatiable need to take selfies and post to the world where in the world one is, makes it important that tourist destinations have something iconic. We all wish we had an Eiffel Tower, but until then, what can we create, support, endorse? (Oh no, here she goes again….)
Miami has the beautiful Coleman Theater, and a picture shot at the right angle can capture this Rt 66 splendor. With some luck, the reader board will even give Face Book followers and Instagram investigators even more info on where and when the photo was taken. Those that make their way down the Ribbon Road of 66 don’t want to miss the chance to take a pic of their feet with that famous interstate 66 image painted on the narrow asphalt.
Every community needs something that says this is “us.” More than a name etched on a water tower, towns that invest in art invite visitors to slow down and get out and look are also inviting visitors to spend money. The free publicity that goes along with all those selfies that wing their way onto the World Wide Web is pretty effective, too. I’ve had the opportunity to see many cities’ art. Some of it, I loved. Some wasn’t too impressive (that’s art!) but the point is, that art was part of the tour that the city wanted us to see as we visited.
In Northeast OK we do have some iconic backdrops, the big McDonalds over the turnpike, the long span of the Pensacola Dam and the many bridges we have crossing the rivers and lakes. They are symbols of Green Country, but pretty darn hard to photograph without an aerial view. HarBer Village offers some great structures that are recognizable, but that is seasonal and not always available. I looked around Groovy Grove today for art. I know the Angel of Hope in Lendonwood exists as that is one of my favorite places for visitors to discover, but it takes some effort to find. Nope, the only art I found was the giant metal giraffe chained by the back leg to the sign in front of Cheapo Depo. Well, and his friend the giant rooster. Somehow I’m not really crazy about the idea of tourists doing selfies in front of high in the hindquarters giraffe and posting “I’m in Grove on Grand Lake!” I’m not sure that is the image we want to be identified with.
Grove has an opportunity to become home to an amazing aircraft, the F-4 Phantom, which could become an iconic image for our town. If you haven’t heard about it, start reading the Grove Sun! There was a wonderful article in Tuesday’s paper. Or, talk with a member of the Grove Rotary, Dave or Beverly Helms of Grand Prosthetics in Grove. I hope our local folks rally to make this happen. This will be a piece of history that will invite travelers to stop, look and learn… and that is something to see.